Speaker spotlight: Walid O. El Cheikh, Aalto University Executive Education

Walid O. El Cheikh will be hosting a Pitching and Networking workshop at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki

Speaker spotlight: Walid O. El Cheikh, Aalto University Executive Education

Walid O. El Cheikh is the Program Manager at Aalto University Executive Education (Aalto EE), and he'll be running a Pitching and Networking Workshop at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki on September 11-12. Click here to get more info about the show, and to buy your tickets.

Walid runs the Game Executive program at Aalto EE. He is a regular speaker and coach about entrepreneurship, games and education. He focuses on the human side of business because people are important! Walid’s wish is to inspire people to adopt pitching and networking as early as possible. He believes that it is not so scary, hard or uncomfortable if you have the right tools and tips.

Q: What does your role at the company entail?

A: I manage the Game Executive program and I coach Pitching and Networking to executives and founders. I design the content for learning, talk to professors, speakers and experts in the games industry. I am very active in the gamedev community e.g. at IGDA Finland I am the event coordinator for the Helsinki Hub.

Q: What do you think have been the most exciting developments in gaming since the last Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki?

A: The community keeps getting stronger and stronger. The talent spring is alive. The summers are warmer and winters are always cold. So, my point is that Finland will always have the perfect condition and environment for creating high quality games because of its education, infrastructure and eternal passion for games.

Q: What are your thoughts on the way the industry has grown in the last 12 months?

A: Growth can be measured in many ways e.g. financial performance, number of employees and intellectual/technical abilities. To me personally, I have noticed that Finland can produce at any time a new superstar studio e.g. Small Giant Games’ story with the Empires & Puzzles game.

Mobile is dominating platform but we cannot ignore Housemarque’s Game of the Year 2017 Award for Nex Machina, which is a console game. I do not see any signs that Finland is stopping its journey in innovation in games, and not stopping can be seen as an indication of growth.

Q: What do you think the next 12 months in mobile gaming are going to look like?

A: Most people are talking about new platforms or user acquisition strategies. I would imagine that the industry will go back a step and think about design, branding and usability. We need unique gameplay that is fun but also easily recognizable and adoptable. Games that people will talk about as much as download and/or buy from stores.

Word of mouth is important; that is how I discover most of my games that stay longer than a week on my phone or console. Social games, e-sports as well as competitive games will most likely monetize more than other games, but this is just my impression based on what I hear from my discussions with gamedevs. To be fair, I think having a social game (or any) that has poor monetisation strategy will not perform well in my opinion, the chances will be very slim for success from the commercial side.

So, in Finland we would like to see more emphasis on the strategic commercialization of games, while ten years ago we kind of looked at leadership skills and/or entrepreneurship for technical and design game makers.

Q: Which part of Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki are you most looking forward to and why?

A: I usually love the atmosphere and the people at PGC Helsinki and in the games industry in general. This year I am looking forward to the Indie Pitches and I would like to help as many games studios as possible to communicate their games ideas. I am very passionate about pitching competitions in general; you never know what to expect and how cool the ideas/people are. Also, the events around PGC and Networking are priceless.

About Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki

In a few short weeks the whole mobile gaming industry is set to descend on Helsinki for Pocket Gamer Connects. The event, which runs from September 11th to September 12th, is packed full of talks, tracks, networking opportunities, and more. You can read about the full conference schedule here.

There are still tickets available for the show, and if you click this link right here you'll get all the information you need on how to buy them, and what's going to be happening in Helsinki over the two days.

Contributing Editor

Harry used to be really good at Snake on the Nokia 5110. Apparently though, digital snake wrangling isn't a proper job, so now he writes words about games instead.